Grantee Highlight: Menorah Park & Syracuse Jewish Family Service

A Personal Connection

Since their inception over a century ago, Menorah Park and Syracuse Jewish Family Service (SJFS) have dedicated their efforts to enriching the lives of the elderly Jewish community in Central New York. SJFS first came under the umbrella of Menorah Park in 2008 and, through their continuum of care model, the combined organizations have offered high quality health, residential and community services while meeting a wide range of aging needs thanks to a holistic, preventative and wellness-oriented approach. The Sephardic Foundation on Aging (SFOA) played a crucial role in allowing both organizations to maintain their programs, expand their reach and increase their capacity to provide these invaluable support services by offering five grants — three to Menorah Park and two to SJFS — totaling $320,000 since 2017.

2017, 2019: Menorah Park

In 2017, SFOA provided Menorah Park with a $150,000 grant for building a memory care center. This represented the first time the organization was able to house a community-based program. Before the grant, Menorah Park could not afford to rent a space for its beneficiaries. As a gesture of gratitude, the care center was named for the foundation: the Sephardic Home for the Aged Foundation Arts and Minds Community Center.

SFOA’s second $50,000 grant in 2019 allowed the organization to offer programs that couldn’t be run in nursing units and extend more services that facilitate independence for older adults experiencing memory loss and other early symptoms of dementia. Some of the services offered included entertainment activities, leisure time and synagogue services where seniors could congregate outside the home and participate in expressive arts.

2018: Syracuse Jewish Family Service

SJFS focuses on community perspective and meets the needs of beneficiaries requiring medical level care. They work in tandem with Menorah and reach over 1,500 people. SFOA’s $50,000 grant in 2018 allowed the organization to reach families in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Maryland.

SFOA’s contribution also bolstered the organization’s “AgeWise Care” program, which combines care management, emotional, cognitive, behavioral and social support and education. “$enior Cents” is a good example of those support services the program offers: empowering vulnerable older adults to acquire financial and medical literacy to avoid scams and exploitation.

2020, 2021: Pandemic Support

SFOA reached out to both organizations during the pandemic, knowing they would need support. With grants of $20,000 in 2020 and $50,000 in 2021 to SJFS and Menorah Park respectively, the organizations could afford the personal protective equipment (PPE) they desperately needed. Thanks to the grants, they never stopped providing services and were able to sustain their outreach. They even welcomed a new and younger demographic of 50-year-olds.

SFOA’s 2021 grant to Menorah Park allowed the organization to start its “M Power U” program, which provides for individuals with neurological disorders (i.e. ALS, Parkinson’s, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis). Through this program the organization helps slow down the progression of neurological disorders and provide a better quality of life.

“A Weight off my Shoulders”

The work of Menorah Park and SJFS is a synergy. Thanks to SFOA’s support, both organizations can maximize that synergy and offer another way to take care of people. “For me”, said Mary Ellen Bloodgood, CEO of Menorah Park, “it was such a weight lifted off my shoulders.” Mary Ellen is equally grateful for SFOA’s willingness to take a chance on investing in expressive arts to bring it into a healthcare setting: “we could not have these programs if it were not for SFOA.”

Posted June 30, 2022